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The study concluded that academia “is characterized by universally extreme inequality in faculty production.” Photo credit: GettyImages.

Study shows 80% of professors at Ph.D.-granting universities attended the same colleges

Although colleges are able to hire staff from respected institutions, it limits employability of faculty graduating from less prestigious ones.

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According to a new Nature research, a small group of top universities, about 20%, account for the training of 80% of faculty in the U.S. Ph.D.-granting institutions. In this way, those selected institutions essentially dominate the tenure-track hiring process — and influence the spread of ideas, academic norms and culture, according to Higher Ed Dive

The study found out that faculty members tend to be employed at universities considered less prestigious than those that trained them. It also stated that a department is considered prestigious if it produces graduates who are hired by other well-regarded departments. 

Not showing a good perspective for faculty who weren’t trained at one of the small number of institutions dominating the academy, these people are almost twice as likely to leave their professions each year. Weakening the value of most colleges’ programs, the study shows that faculty graduating from less prestigious colleges are less likely to be employed.  

According to Higher Ed Dive, just over one in eight domestically trained faculty were educated at five doctoral institutions: the University of California, Berkeley, Harvard University, the University of Michigan, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Stanford University. Those same trained more faculty than all non-U.S. universities combined.

The research studied the educational history of about 300,000 people who had worked at the 386 Ph.D.-granting institutions in the U.S. between 2011 and 2020. To read more about it, click here

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